The Rap Consortium
DJ Khaled and Catherine Brewton
The first time Brewton, vp writer-publisher relations at BMI, heard Khaled's "I'm on One," nominated for best rap/sung collaboration, her reaction was instant: "I said to him, 'This is a monster hit.' " Brewton, who declines to give her age, has been in the Cash Money Records inner circle since its infancy and is a sounding board for its rappers. "She guides us to put out the best records," says Khaled, 30. "Records that will be licensed forever." To that end, the Miami native, who'll attend his first Grammys as a nominee, took 14 months to craft the perfect power-player rap anthem featuring vocals by Drake, Rick Ross and Lil Wayne. Part of that time involved waiting for Drake's schedule to clear. "I wasn't taking 'no' for an answer," says Khaled, who doubles as Def Jam South president. After Drake laid down vocals in Toronto, Khaled nabbed Ross in New Orleans and Wayne in Miami. Propelled by twitchy synths and a hooky chorus, "I'm on One" has sold 1.5 million downloads, according to Nielsen SoundScan, and was soundtracked for sporting events, movies and video-game trailers. The result: Khaled has been in sponsorship talks with such deep-pocketed brands as Ciroc vodka and Nike and is expanding his management company and production team. His next musical conquest? "Eminem," says Khaled, now working on his next album, Kiss the Ring. He has been pursuing the elusive star for more than a year. "Actually," he adds, "I might be close."
Photographed by Peter Yang on Jan. 20 in New York City